Bye-bye, possums! After 50 years in the spotlight, Dame Edna exits stage left
Farewell, possums. Barry Humphries, the man behind the big glasses and purple hair of Australia's first lady, has announced he is retiring Dame Edna Everage from the stage after admitting he is feeling a "bit senior".
The comedian, 78, who for half a century has fronted the world's most recognisable drag act, said his other famous character Sir Les Patterson would also retire, during a farewell tour of Australia this summer.
"Edna will crop up on television, I guess, but not in a live show," Humphries said. "The fact of the matter is that I'm beginning to feel a bit senior."
At the forefront of his thinking was the memory of his parents taking him to a show featuring performers who had "outlived their shelf-life". Humphries remembers someone commenting: "You should have seen him when he was funny". "I want to avoid that being said about me and know that I can't keep doing it," he said, adding he had a contract to write another book. "It's the best aerobics you could do, leaping around on stage, but it's gruelling when there are other things to do," he told Australia's Sunday Telegraph.
Humphries created Dame Edna in 1955 when he was touring country towns in Australia, and she made her first appearance in a Melbourne University revue the same year. Originally billed as Mrs Norm Everage, Humphries evolved the act to include that hair, the dresses and those killer shoes, which helped to catapult Edna to a dame in the 1974 film Barry McKenzie Holds His Own – when Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam made a cameo to award the honour.
Her success in the UK peaked in the 1980s and 1990s with a string of television shows, including talk show The Dame Edna Experience. She famously described her chat shows as "an intimate conversation between two friends, one of whom is a lot more interesting than the other". Between touring Britain and America, she made cameo appearances on Ally McBeal and wrote an autobiography.
Humphries is due to keep audiences guessing during his farewell tour, Eat Pray Laugh! – a reference to Elizabeth Gilbert's novel, which became a 2010 film about a spiritual journey starring Julia Roberts.
"Les has become a celebrity chef. We'll have a kitchen on stage and Les working away, clearly preparing a meal for political colleagues," Humphries said. "Edna, of course, will be discussing her spiritual journey. She's on a journey to find herself, to lose the trappings of megastardom and become a real person."
Humphries said he would also keep his audience guessing to the end by featuring a new character.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'